Friday, 29 June 2012

Interview: Markos Papadopoulos CEO, Z2O Limited

Interview: Markos Papadopoulos CEO, Z2O Limited
1- Z2O is what we call a new innovative SME. Can you tell us more about your company?
Z2O was born from the result of 30 years of research in the area of naturally occurring bacteria and their effect on the environment we live in. The technology behind the bacterial processes is over 4.5 Billion years old. However the understanding of how Bacteria work has only just now started to be understood by scientists. Over the years the inventors of the products of Z2O have developed these products by focusing on the workings of certain mother strains of bacteria and their effects on mainly bioremediation and soil healing. Our products do not contain any genetically modified material, or chemicals which damage the environment.

2- You cover several important sector such as nutrition, remediation, and clean tech, could you elaborate?
Our company’s activities and products development are focused around three main sectors of commercial activities: Energy, Food, and Food Security. Food Security is at the centre of our strategy for the future and I will elaborate on this in due course.
Our involvement in the energy sector is threefold:
a. On the one hand we address the bioremediation of soils and water bodies contaminated by the Oil & Gas activities, and other activities involving the use of Hydrocarbons, and
b. on the other we address Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) through microbial processes (MEOR). Nowadays no more than 30% of the proven reserves can be recovered. The Microbial technology we offer can increase this recovery to close to 70% and even 100%. This will reduce automatically the continuous demand on new land and offshore areas to be explored for Oil & Gas and will release it as arable land and protect any bodies of water from further exploration.
c. Finally, our waste water treatment products are able to degrade the cellulose in wood waste and food waste in mono or bi-saccharides, which in turn are the perfect feedstock for the production of biofuels. Cellulose from wood waste is vastly unused at the moment and we are having to turn to easier feedstock like food commodities to produce our bio-fuels. This combined action is destined to regenerate contaminated soils into arable lands available, and to increase significantly the recovery of proven Oil & Gas reserves that cannot be recovered with the available technologies, whether chemical, or mechanical. Finally the development of our products for degrading cellulose are releasing the food commodities to our food chain and will no longer be able to influence the ever rising prices of these commodities.

In the Food sector our intervention is mainly in agriculture and aquaculture.
a. In Agriculture our products are formulated to treat arable land that has been degraded by decades of use of chemical fertilisers, and regenerate this soil so that production with much higher yields can be resumed. We have experienced up to 45% in yield increases on average and in some soils the yield increase reached up to 60%. The treatment of these soils has also significantly reduced, and even eliminated ground and surface water contamination. We also intervene at the level of cattle where we offer microbial products that are added to the feed or drink of cattle and improve the food assimilation of the cattle resulting in higher weights in less time. We have witnessed up to 30% increased weights in cattle using our products with a 20% time reduction on their growth.
b. In aquaculture, our products are achieving some spectacular results in brackish as well as sea water. The main aim of these products is to eliminate any harmful bacteria in the water of the marine animals by competitive exclusion, which at the same will increase exponential their ability to resist any viral infection. Using a variety of our products, we have been able to reduce post-larval mortality in a high intensity brackish water shrimp farm from 95% on average to less than 5%. At the same time, the weights of individual shrimps by 35% on average. In open ocean and despite the outside factors the increase in yield was around 45%, the mortality reduced to under 20%. In both cases the full cycle from post-larval to harvest was reduced from 24 to 20 weeks. These results can be expect to reflect in all other types of aquaculture such as Fish, oyster, mussels, farming and the likes.
c- Food Security is at the centre of our strategy: This is our vision, our statement of faith. Food security is not only providing food for everybody but more importantly providing accessibility to food for everybody. That includes providing the accessibility with affordable means to everybody. The resources for food production are becoming scarcer by the day due to industrial, mining and energy activities putting increasing pressure on the food resources. Although the problems of food security are enormous, they are not impossible to resolve: let us take the example of a small community of say 1,00 people in a lost corner of Africa: They have no immediate access to food due to their degraded arable land, often contaminated by industrial or exploration activities, who have to travel several miles a day for access to water and food or depend on hand-outs for their food: International organisations are increasingly working on shoe-string budgets. Most of the time the food cannot even reach these communities for various reasons including robbery, war lords activities and other natural reasons. We can intervene and regenerate the soil for agriculture, secure clean water for irrigation and cattle, growing and to create an aquaculture accessible to all in the village. Utopia? Not at all. This could be achieved in less than 12 months, and the larger the community the bigger the operations. The people within that community will have had secured access to food, the running of the operations requires very little technology, and the supply is secured with minimal influence of outside factors. Why nobody had thought of that before? Everybody had thought of that as the ideal solution: but the technology was not available: these project cannot be achieved with chemical fertilisers and aquaculture with sometimes 100% mortality.

3- It’s interesting the way you address these issues! What are the main driver of your activity?
As stated the main driver of our activity is Food Security. One important element of Food Security in of course the Biomarine environment. We have been witnessing over the past couple of years an increased interest in our products not only from producers of marine and water based food, but also from the polluters of the marine environment ( “the bad guys so to speak”) to embrace the solutions we offer through our products. Food producers are looking to increase their yields and therefore their revenues, and reduce their dependence on state aid, and polluters are looking to minimize their risk exposure to back breaking penalties, by working to be compliant with environmental regulations. In all areas there is an increased awareness of the environment and the need to protect it, some are more urgent than others, but all tend to achieve the ultimate purpose, which is a healthy Industrial and Energy activity that is environmentally friendly, and a better supply and access to food for all.

4- Could you give us some example of contract you are working on?
The Bioremediation Industry, and the Oil Industry have proven to be the industries that are urgently looking for solutions to bio-remediate the effects of their activities in many areas, and at the same time looking to increase the amount of oil they can recover from their proven reserves in order to maximise shareholders return on investment. We are currently negotiating contracts with major, and less major oil companies for cleaning up Oil storage tanks from their residues, treating oil going through pipelines to secure a better and seamless flow of the Oil, and treating wells and oil reservoirs to secure higher oil recovery from the proven reserves. We are also negotiating contracts in Africa, South America, and the Middle East to secure the bio-remediation of vast lands contaminated with very high levels of hydrocarbons.
Concurrently, we are investing a lot of effort in trials with the commodities producers such as wheat, soya, corn, and the likes that have allowed us to start negotiating with major commodities traders who have secured farming land to support their trading activities.
Finally we are supplying shrimp farmers in the US and South America with products that have made a big difference in their operations, whether qualitatively, quantitatively or financially.

5- This is your first participation in BioMarine, why are you interested by this growing sector?
Biomarine, together with agriculture, is at the heart of Food Security as we have discussed in previous questions. Z2O alone cannot go far in promoting its strategy, and we need all the assistance we can get in order to achieve our goals. Our participation in Biomarine 2012 will go a long way in creating for us a consistent network that will help us achieve our goals in growing the sector, and at the same time benefit all our partners in Biomarine.

6- You are the industry partner of the marine biotech for environment think tank. What are your expectations?
Let me first say that Z2O is proud to be part of Biomarine 2012 and the think tank that identifies best with our activities. We see this participation as the stepping stone for building up a network of people with similar goals, and in the longer term to be able, with Biomarine to put forward innovative policies, to governments and International organisations, that will result in eliminating in the long run the need for subsidies in all food industries (policies that most countries can hardly afford nowadays) and at the same time secure a better environment.
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OriginOil broadens focus from algae

OriginOil, Inc, the developer of technology to make algae a viable alternative to petroluem, has announced that its platform technology which separates solids from liquids in a single pass, without the use of chemicals, has market implications beyond the algae industry.

"Oil and gas drilling, industrial wastewater treatment, toxic remediation and any place that organic solids are separated out of liquids may be a potential growth market for our suite of extraction technologies," says OriginOil CEO, Riggs Eckelberry.

English: Green algae o rocks at ShihTiPing (gi...
English: Green algae o rocks at ShihTiPing (giant stone steps) coastal area in Taiwan 中文: 石梯坪石頭上的綠藻類 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Thursday, 28 June 2012

Aurora Algae invests in algae bio-diesel

Aurora Algae has tripled the amount of money it wants to spend on a commercial algae bio-diesel plant in Karratha, Western Australia.
The company announced a $100 million expansion of its demonstration facility earlier in 2012 but  thanks good performance, the money has been upped to $300 million.
English: Aerial view of Karratha, Western Aust...
English: Aerial view of Karratha, Western Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Aker BioMarine's MSC score improves

Aker BioMarine's second MSC audit has increased by the overall score for principle 2 Maintenance of Ecosystem increased from 91 to 94.3. In addition, all existing MSC-related conditions were judged to have been met, meaning the score for the relevant performance indicator was raised to 80 or more.  Read more...
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Learn more about the BioMarine Business Convention

Roger Gilbert of Perendale Publishers explains a bit more about the BioMarine business Convention.  Watch video...
English: Coral reefs in the Red Sea, near Hurg...
English: Coral reefs in the Red Sea, near Hurghada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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Interview: Meredith Lloyd Evans and Johanna Wesnigk, MG4U

Interview For Pierre Erwes, Biomarine 2012, Think Tank

Q1: PE to both of you: In a few words could you tell us who you are?
Johanna: I am a project manager for European research projects focussing on marine environmental, genomic and biotechnological issues. My background is in bioremediation and marine microbiology.
Meredith: I run a biosciences innovation consultancy that specialises in challenging new areas, of which blue biotech and industrial biotech are two. My background is in the pharmaceutical industry, veterinary medicine, IP management and general technology consultancy.

Q2: PE to Johanna.  For our audience could you explain the scope of marine genomics in our biomarine industry?
With Marine Genomics we can mine data, not resources. This is important, as strong points for using marine resources are the high bio- and chemical diversity in the sea, many bio-active substances are in use in the fight for survival. However, it is hard to get sufficient quantities of the resources, it’s expensive to extract them, and the harvest  of commercially useful amounts is neither sustainable nor guaranteed over time.
Marine genomics can help us with the following issues:
  1. Better understanding of marine ecosystems, enhanced through in-depth knowledge of the molecular repertoire of marine organisms.
  2. Insights into the large number of genes with unknown functions and possibilities to use this potential for us.
  3. Utilisation of novel variations of known enzymes with improved characteristics (cold- heat-pressure stability, inert to saline environment, e.g. in the EU-funded Mamba project).
  4. Determining optimum expression conditions (examples could be nitrogen limitation or light stimulation) to avoid costly high-throughput screening.
Marine environmental genomic information thus can also enable better cultivation of interesting microorganisms to learn more about their exotic enzymes which then could be heterologously expressed in the known microbial workhorses, or if we are ambitious and patient enough, in new model marine microorganisms.

Q3: PE to Meredith: BioBridge is a relay between research and industry. How do you see marine genomics applied research in major developments of tomorrow’s biomarine industry?
Johanna has highlighted the main attractions; the key is to marry together some interesting industrial needs with the possibilities we have. Needs we know about include new enzymes for green applications – biocatalysis, avoidance of petroleum-dependency, reduced energy and carbon use; new therapeutic agents for difficult diseases (not just cancers); and robust and novel materials, some of which may even be capable of taking their place in nanotechnology and new data-processing methods, as well as for industrial and medical uses. Exploring Blue Biotech also gives scope for innovation in the important support areas of laboratory-based analytical technologies, micro-engineering and microfluidics, extreme-environment engineering and new bioprocess systems.
In all of these, marine genomics plays a role – in identifying the targets, in collaborating with modern genetic engineering and synthetic biology, in ensuring that engineering innovation is appropriate, in addition to stimulating the search to pin down what previously unknown genes may actually do.

Q4: PE to Meredith. Most of the projects in marine genomics are conducted by innovative SMEs, unfortunately after a few years they tend to disappear. What is the blocking factor to their development and what are the winning strategies for SMEs in Europe versus North America.
The blocking factor in Europe is usually insufficient funding for the pre-profit trajectory of a company. Those that focus on using marine genomics as a service or contract research tool may indeed survive because of this, since they can achieve cash-flow if they are effective as deliverers of what industry wants. I generally take it as a ‘rule of thumb’ that the US has at least 10 times as much money available for investment in start-ups and is several times more willing to invest in innovation than is the case in Europe. Also, there is a strong support in USA for government-funded SME links with innovative research, to embed new science in companies. National and EU funding in blue biotech has been poorly correlated and aligned in the past; SMEs often found it hard to be involved in and benefit from EU consortia, for example. This is hopefully changing.

Q5: PE to Johanna. MG4U is a European program dedicated to marine genomics. Could you tell us what are the main points of interests and what is at stake?
MG4U is “Marine Genomics for Users” in full. Our remit is to spread knowledge on the manifold outcomes of national and international research projects on marine -omics, from the FP6 Network of Excellence MGE to new large projects like the French Oceanomics and the European Micro B3. We are addressing marine researchers, policy makers and especially industry, potentially interested in the many innovative developments for diverse sectors. Tools within MG4U are a knowledge database, workshops and training courses, dedicated MG sessions at conferences and establishing/furthering one-to-one contacts between academia and industries.

Q6: PE to Johanna: when it comes to the necessary tools used in marine genomics Bioinformatics is always top of the list. Could you explain the concept?
In -omics you have to deal with increasingly large amounts of sequence data, esp. since the high-throughput and next-generation sequencing technologies have taken over and data are “exploding”. Thus novel bioinformatics techniques and infrastructures are urgently needed to turn data into sensible information and into knowledge. This ranges from data- and quality management (cleaning), aligning, annotating the raw data; to data-mining, text-mining, data integration, statistics and modelling tasks. To make ultimate sense and predict, e. g. novel functions of genes, genomic data need to be merged with environmental, biological and biochemical knowledge. This has led to a new discipline called environmental bioinformatics, which will be addressed in the Micro B3 project. Starting out as a set of techniques bioinformatics has become a technology and a new research discipline. Also companies are emerging to provide bioinformatics services.

Q7: PE to Meredith & Johanna: In October in London both of you will be involved in one of the Biomarine Think-tanks on marine biotechnology. What do you expect from such a brainstorming?
We are working together to encourage industry to propose strategic needs where a better understanding of genes and their functions is going to make a difference. One outcome should be enhanced understanding between industry and academia of marine-genomic based processes of interest leading to industrial bio-products. Also, part of the function of a think-tank like this is to create new contacts and networks, with a view for future activities. So, questions to answer are
            what are topics/areas/ approaches for industry-academia cooperation for marine biotechnology, and
            how can typical problems i.e. those between industry and researchers or those facing        industry in establishing new developments be solved or avoided?
We also see that big industry understands and uses genomics in many ways already, so we want to investigate not only
            what the overall research needs of industry are but also
            how SMEs can be enabled to use the marine bioresources potential, and
            what kind of research collaboration they are open for, and what they would pay for?
We need to define the exact area in this value chain, where academia can hand over research results to industry. At the moment it seems too often that industry wants things ‘on a plate’ - which is far too far along the chain, and too expensive, for most research innovators to achieve, even with government funding support for collaborations.
Finally, we will use the think-tank to set some of the agenda items and identify some of the contributors for the BioMarine 2013 conference.

Q8: PE to Johanna: You are familiar with European project funding processes. Do you know if marine genomics is still a priority for the European Commission? Could you elaborate?
In the final stages of FP7 marine biotechnology and environmental genomics can be found as part of many medium and large projects, in the Ocean of Tomorrow calls, as well as in dedicated KBBE and a few environmental calls. In basic research funding the ERC (European Research Council) grants often include -omics elements as they are an integral part of many marine, environmental and life sciences research questions.

As to the future within Horizon 2020, not too much detail has been put down yet. The ERC grants will continue, with the new team “Synergy” grants potentially enabling even larger ‑omics projects to be tackled. Marine and maritime research will be a part of the KBBE societal challenge sub-programme, thus applied projects will become stronger. Finally biotechnology is named as one of the Key Enabling Technologies, with marine input as a potentially very innovative element in technology development, as we tackle very diverse taxa from which are emerging new model species and novel knowledge, e.g. on evolution for certain biotech applications.
So there are three major opportunities for marine -omics to be funded, from creating new knowledge, to addressing societal challenges, all the way to biotech demonstration plan(t)s.

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Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Kofi Annan: Michael Crawford responds

Earlier in June 2012, Kofi Annan told delegates at AquaVision 2012 in Stavanger, Norway, that Aquaculture has the potential to contribute to reducing world hunger.

The former Secretary-General of the UN, who was the main speaker at the show, directly addressed the food security challenges of the coming decades.
English: Mr. Kofi Annan, former General Secrat...
English: Mr. Kofi Annan, former General Secratery of the United Nations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In response, Michael Crawford of Imperial College London, had this to say:
Kofi Annan is of course right. Aquaculture has to play a key role in the future supply of food. Fish and sea food is especially important for health and to combat the rising mental ill health through its rich provision of long chain omega 3 fatty acids needed by the brain. Mental ill health is predicted by the Global Forum for Health to be no 2 burden of ill health by 2020 world wide: just 8 years time.

There is a catch! According to FAO, the wild fish catch reached its limit about 2000. That means the amount of by-product for aquaculture must also reach a limit.

People are aware of this and are trying to feed salmon on vegetable oil. This has resulted in the amount of omega 6 linoleic acid rising from a trace amount to 10 and even higher percentages of the fatty acids in the fish oils. This is a disaster of monumental proportions as linoleic acid being an omega 6 fatty acid will compete with the omega 3 and dumb down the health benefits.

Whilst much can be done with the herbivorous fish and sea foods, the long term answer is not aquaculture but marine agriculture. We have to start farming the sea bed as is being done in Japan and Indonesia. That is we have to "agriculturalise" the oceans.

We know more about the surface of the moon and mars than we do about the oceans of our own planet. There has to be a complete paradigm shift in investment and initiative. And the reason is clear: the brain evolved in the sea 500 million years ago. Despite the greatly changing genome from cephalopds to fish, amphibia, reptiles, birds, mammals and ourselves, we still use the same essential chemistry of marine fats to build and keep our brains functional.

The likelihood is that humans evolved at the coast and the richness of the sea food powered the development of the brain. Land mammals experienced a loss of brain capacity as they evolved bigger bodies. Take for example a zebra has 360g brain. A marine mammal with a similar body size, the dolphin has 1.8 Kg brain. Chris Stringer of the British Museum points to the evidence that Homo sapiens migrated out of Africa to populate the planet around the coast lines. As populations grew people moved inland and today this is where you find iodine deficiency, the commonest cause of mental retardation. Today, there are 2 billion people at risk to iodine deficiency. The richest source of iodine is in the marine food web alongside the omega 3 essential fats also needed for the brain.

With mental ill health having already overtaken all other burdens of ill health the security of the marine food web has to be n o 1 priority. However, the hunting and gathering has reached its limit, aquaculture for the carnivorous fish which are the richest in the brain specific nutrients, will also reach its limits but will have an important role to play if managed properly. Yet population expansion is in full exponential swing. We have to agriculturalise the oceans.

Mickael Crawford will take part in of both Roy Palmer’s Think-tanks at the BioMarine Business Convention.

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Monday, 25 June 2012

Interview: Hilde Steineger, Vice President of Business Development, Pronova BioPharma

Interview with Hilde Steineger, Vice President of Business Development, Pronova BioPharma

Could you introduce Pronova BioPharma?
Pronova BioPharma is a Scandinavian health care company providing preventive care and life-saving treatments focused on safe and efficacious lipid therapies. We are a leader in omega-3s, and have helped to shape the industry through pioneering drug discovery, development of complex manufacturing processing and innovative commercialisation models. Today, our products help improve the lives of 1.4 million heart patients in 57 countries.

Can you tell us about your products?
We have developed the first and only omega-3 derived prescription drug approved by the European regulatory authorities and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The drug, which is branded through a network of commercial partners and sold in 57 countries under the brand names Lovaza, Omacor®, Zodin®, Seacor®, Escapent® and Eskim®, has become a blockbuster product with USD 1.4 billion in sales in the 8 largest markets. It is used as an adjunct to diet and other lifestyle changes for the treatment of elevated levels of triglycerides, which have been linked to cardiovascular diseases and are included in the American Heart Association, European and Asian treatment guidelines. The drug has also been approved in several European and Asian markets for the secondary prevention of post-myocardial infarction in the period following the initial survival of a heart attack.

In line with our mission to maintain and further develop our global leadership in lipid-derived health-bringing products, we are engaging in significant Research & Development to create new patent protected lipid derivatives for the treatment of cardiovascular, metabolic and inflammatory diseases.

We are also collaborating with leading scientists and commercial partners to develop new clinical nutrition products which will provide omega-3 nutrition for ill patients.

Pronova BioPharma is also developing high quality omega-3 consumer health supplements with documented health benefits. The strong body of clinical data that has driven the success of our pharmaceutical business has greatly increased consumer awareness of the benefits of high grade omega-3 supplements. We believe that our ability to manufacture high concentrate, high purity omega-3 supplements will be a key differentiator in delivering purer, more efficacious products for the consumer than what’s currently available.

You have mentioned purity a number of times. Can you talk a bit about the issue of purity in omega-3s?
The raw material fish oil that is used for the processing of omega-3 products may contain various amounts of environmental pollutants, which were present in the fish from which the oils were derived. Basically, concentrating fish oils in order to develop concentrated omega-3s could also have the effect of concentrating the environmental pollutants and oxidation products, unless you take steps to remove these harmful products. High levels of environmental pollutants and oxidation products may pose a risk to human health.

We believe that this issue has contributed to an interesting “trust paradox” in the consumer omega-3 supplement market. On one hand, omega-3 is highly researched, with more than 2,100 clinical studies published and a vast number of articles on the subject. On the other hand, the category arguably has some issues around trust because of the variable quality and marketing around these products – leading to concerns among consumers about what and whom to trust.

So the challenge for the industry, in our view, is how to increase consumer awareness of and demand for both efficacy and safety?

We believe that Pronova BioPharma is ideally positioned to address this challenge and take advantage of the growing opportunity it presents. Our leadership position in pharmaceutical omega-3s and clinical evidence base enables us to clearly demonstrate proven efficacy. Likewise, Pronova BioPharma has developed a complex manufacturing chain which involves patented environmental pollutant-stripping processes and the use of an antioxidant, to achieve very high levels of purity for our products.

So what’s the future for Pronova BioPharma?
There are many opportunities for growth for Pronova BioPharma. We have a strong franchise of branded products that have been clinically proven to be efficacious and safe. We will continue to manage the life cycle of these products in existing markets at the same time as we expand our geographical reach. From our strong base we will expand our business into diverse but related areas where we can leverage our core capabilities, such as omega-3 consumer health care and clinical nutrition. We are also pursuing long-term clinical research and development into lipid derived therapies for the treatment of metabolic, cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases.
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Helena Vieira, CEO and co-founder BIOALVO SA

Helena is CEO of Bioalvo and will participate at BioMarine in the women debate

Helena Vieira is the CEO and co-founder of BIOALVO SA, a natural products biotech company    focusing on maximizing bioactive ingredient discovery using its own proprietary technology and libraries, since 2005. She holds a post graduation in Leadership & Strategy in Pharma & Bioptech, from Harvard Business School, Boston, USA and a PhD in Biomedicine from Imperial College of London, UK.
She was also a researcher in the molecular and cellular biology fields, in Portugal and    UK,    and    completed several other post graduations in the human molecular genetics field. Before starting-up BIOALVO, she was an Associated Professor and Scientific Coordinator of the biomedical and clinical engineering degrees at the Engineering    Faculty of Catholic University of Portugal, Lisbon.    She    also    has experience as Principle Investigator at the Biomedical Nucleus, since 2005, at the same university. Currently, Helena is responsible for the supervision & teaching of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology Transfer course to Master Students in the Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon. She is currently leading a team of 15 people while managing one of the TOP 3 biotech companies in Portugal. Helena is highly    skilled    in    biotech    strategy    and    major    technical    aspects    of    natural products bioactive discovery and development fro several industries, from pharmaceutical to cosmetics and nutraceutics.

BIOALVO, the Biotech for Natural Products, is a Portuguese start-up company with a privileged access to the biggest continental platform in Europa – Portugal’s. BIOALVO develops fully integrated biotech solutions to maximize natural products market applications in areas as diverse as cosmetics, household products, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals or even industrial. BIOALVO holds unique and proprietary microorganisms natural extracts collections form the unique Portuguese deep Ocean (PharmaBUG, LUSOMAREXTRACT) and Land (LUSOEXTRACT) ecosystems and couples these assets with its unique and patented discovery technology GPS D2, its extensive assay development and HTS robotics capacity as well as production and full development capacities in house, providing its partners with a one-stop-shop solution for their innovation in natural product development. By using BIOALVO’s organization as a fully integrated or modular partner in the different stages of a novel ingredient development our partners are bringing a natural product solution closer and quicker to market. In the last year BIOALVO has identified and is developing novel and innovative ingredients such as a new marine botox-like ingredients with topical action for pharmaceutical and cosmetical applications, novel marine natural anti-UV protectors for cosmetic and textile applications and novel marine neuroprotective and anti-inflammatories compounds with tremendous potential for several other applications. Mostly, at BIOALVO we thrive to find sustainable and natural solutions in the Portuguese ocean and ecosystems to solve current society problems, making everyone’s life healthier, better and more natural. In 2011 BIOALVO was awarded the highest national prize for biodiversity and sustainability (BES BIODIVERSIDADE 2011) and was ranked at the TOP 6 best companies in Europe’s Most Innovative Biotech SME Award 2011
Come and visit us in BIOMARINE CONVENTION 2012 in London and find out our latest developments and contributions to a better world!

Interview: Jean-François ROUS, Corporate Innovation Director, Group Sofiprotéol

Interview Jean François ROUS - Corporate Innovation Director, Sofiproteol, France
After holding various positions, always in the innovation sector, in large multinational groups, Jean-François ROUS joined the Agency for Industrial Innovation (AII), where he participated in the genesis of a number of French major innovation projects.
In 2008, he joined the Group Sofiprotéol where in 2010 he took charge of the Innovation Directorate, where his main mission is to develop and drive the vision of the Innovation Group in the different sectors of energy and sustainable chemistry, food and animal nutrition.

Sofiprotéol is the financial and industrial actor of french vegetable oil and protein industry formed in 1983 at the initiative of the French federation of oilseed and protein crop producers : the Fop, the ONIDOL and UNIP. Originally a financial establishment for the French vegetable oil and protein subsidiary, Proléa, Sofiprotéol’s investments and acquisitions have made it a major agri-food group in France today.

o You have a unique structure and organization, could you elaborate on
your development strategy?
Sofiprotéol’s strategy rests on the complementary relationship between financial and industrial activities. It focuses particularly on nutrition and the environment — key domains of sustainable development.
A balanced presence throughout these industries.
Human and animal nutrition lie at the heart of the Group’s activities.
•    In the field of human nutrition, Sofiprotéol offers high-quality products for the general public, with an emphasis on health.
•    In the field of animal nutrition, the Group uses residue from oil production to produce animal feed (oilseed cakes).

The Group combats climate change and promotes environmental protection more generally by developing renewable energy and renewable chemicals.
•    In the field of renewable energy, Sofiprotéol is the European leader in biodiesel production.
•    In the field of renewable chemistry, the Group has become a key player in oleochemistry with its subsidiaries Novance and Oléon.

Finally unlike some investors that seek short-term profits, the Group is dedicated to building relationships with sector professionals.
Through its financial commitment, Sofiprotéol supports development and innovation across all aspects of the industry. This commitment can take several forms :
•    loans for innovation,
•    acquisition of share holdings in companies within the industry,
•    temporary funding in the event of major fluctuations in share prices.

Through its industrial commitment,Sofiprotéol helps to strengthen the industry’s structure for pre- and post-production activities: from improving seeds to developing new markets for plant chemistry, including biotechnology and biodiesel.

o Jean François, could you describe your main activities and explain why
your group is interested by microalgae?
As the Group has its majors interests in the areas of nutrition, health, bioenergies and chemistry, based on oils and proteins, the link with microalgaes is obvious! These species are just a "new" source of oils and proteins.
However with the current technical and economical urdles, the development of microalgaes will be gradual starting from high value products (food and feed), with bioenergy on the long run, through chemicals in between. Which means all our domains of interest.

o We see a lot of interest and activity in the sector of microalgae. Do
you think you could compete with companies such as Solazyme, BioAlgene, Roquette?
As for many new sectors, as everything has to be developed, there is room for many players. New markets cannot develop if only a couple of players are acting on it. So the more new players will work on micoralgaes, the more this sector is likely to take of!

o What kind of partnerships are you looking for?
In term of commercial development how do you see your development in microalgae
As this point we do not have any specific partnership in mind. We are thrying to better understand the sector as it is today, what are the key technical and economical issues. 
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Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Women executives debate on marine bio-resources

With the BioMarine Business Convention getting closer and closer, the BioMarine Resources blog takes a closer look at the program.

One of the highlights of the first day is the 'Women executives debate on marine bio-resources'.  There's a great panel keen to get stuck into the issues affecting bio-resources.  Chaired by BBC Frozen Planet series producer, Vanessa Berlowitz, the debate promises to be a lively start to the convention.

About Vanessa Berlowitz 

Vanessa Berlowitz, a graduate of Oxford University and a resident of Bristol, England, joined the BBC Natural History Unit as a researcher in 1991. She went on to produce nearly 20 highly acclaimed and award-winning documentaries for a number of series, including “The Human Animal”, “Land of the Tiger” and “Life of Mammals” with Sir David Attenborough. More recently, she produced and directed “Planet Earth” and produced the series “The Frozen Planet”, again in collaboration with Sir Attenborough. In addition, she is a regular contributor to books and magazines and a frequent speaker on wildlife and conservation.

More program information...

Grab Early Bird BioMarine tickets before they fly away

Time is running out to grab an early bird discount for the BioMarine Business Convention, October 24-25, 2012, London.

There's just four days left to register for a full ticket for €1,200 (+VAT)

Registration includes:
  • Admission to all presentations, sessions and plenaries
  • Access to BioMarine One to One Business meetings through our partnering system
  • Welcome coffee, morning and afternoon breaks
  • Lunches
  • Networking evening
  • Gala Dinner
  • Participant’s catalogue and final programme both printed and on a USB key
The BioMarine convention will highlight novel and innovative technologies and developments in aquaculture and aquafeed, marine biotechnology, nutraceuticals, algae for feed and nutrition.The program will also feature two debates, six company presentations, and key notes from the UK Ministry of Fisheries, Norway Ministry of Fisheries, Portugal Ministry of Seas, Canada National research Council, DG Mare, DG Sanco, etc.

The dedicated partnering event is designed to provide ample time for face-to-face meetings with the people you want to connect with, from informal networking and discussions with our company presenters and program advisers, to facilitated opportunities for one-on-one scheduled meetings.     

BioMarine is an established event that brings together major players from across the marine bio resources field every year.  Join us for our London Summit to hear the latest advances in marine bio resources technologies and applications and meet the innovative young companies who could grow into major players.

“For this commandment . . . is not . . . beyon...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Interview: Francisco Gomes, Novus

Francisco Gomes, Executive Manager Aqua Business Unit, Novus International, USA
Francisco Saraiva Gomes leads Aquaculture Business Unit at Novus International. After graduating in Marine Biology in Lisbon, he obtained his doctoral degree at Auburn University, USA and has worked in several positions related to aquaculture and marine biotechnology. 

Novus specialises in health and nutrition micro ingredients and functional technologies including antioxidants, amino acids, enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics and mycotoxin binders. The company focuses in four main platforms: Performance Nutrition; Therapeutic Nutrition; Feed Quality and; Consumer Values.

Why is the aqua market so important in the Novus Strategy?

Last year I had the privilege to address the plenary of the world aquaculture society in Natal, Brazil. There I expressed my view that the aquaculture forecasts are an underestimate. Currently, aquaculture is predicted to increase to 220 mmt of production by 2050, from our current 60 something level today.

These estimates fail to incorporate technology development. Actually they assume that the gains in efficiency in aquaculture will continue to occur at a slower rate than in more sophisticated industries such as poultry. This is a mistake, because aquaculture’s efficiency is increasing every day. 

Moreover, it is inaccurate to assume that aquaculture is comparable to poultry, aquaculture is a new platform for human development. Its applications go way beyond meat production per se. Algae is a good example. Algae culture is in many ways a spinoff of highly tech aquaculture sectors. If agriculture is the platform of land, aquaculture is the platform of water and it is essential for mankind to steer this new platform to fundamental sustainability, socially, environmentally and economically.
Aqua is important for Novus simply because we recognise how important it will be to feed the world.

What are the two majors issues Aquaculture is facing in the horizon 2050?

Aquaculture will face many issues all of them critical from here on to 2050. I say that the sustainability of nutrition and offshore farming are probably two of the biggest ones.

Sustainable nutrition will be a key issue affecting the development of the industry as a whole. To produce all this biomass we need to devise a sustainable sourcing for the raw materials that will be used for feed. 

The fishmeal an oil dependency is perhaps the most significant issue, but surely not the only one. We must not be deaf to the criticism invoked about transferring millions of mt of soy produced on land onto the water. Soy is certainly a solution but will it be the only solution in the long term. 

Alternative proteins must be investigated and algae, single cell protein or insect protein are no longer the science fiction cases they were 10 years ago. Not only, that but it seems more and more likely that feeds will be the preponderant vehicle to prevent disease in aquaculture. 

Without proper health management, there will be no industry. The importance of feed also relates to species and culture systems. We need to learn more about the nutritional requirements of our animals so that we can design feeds that are more efficient, so that they are better absorbed. Conversion of feed is something so paramount to the industry that it affects everything from offshore licensing, to design of recirculated systems, to financial profitability and so on.

Offshore farming is perhaps the other big topic. The potential of the oceans to provide us with food is enormous. I’m convinced that the sustainability of the human species depends on farming the oceans. But the oceans are an extremely sensitive ecological compartment of the planet. We now know that in spite of the gigantic size of the oceans, we have actually been able to change their chemical properties as whole! This is by all measures an incredible fact. 

So now we know how destructive we can really get if we do not pay attention. Should that prevent us from moving forward? I believe it should not. The only real alternative we have is not whether we should farm the oceans but how do we farm the oceans. 

And there again, feeds and sustainable nutrition will have a major role. Salmon farming is the largest marine cage industry in the world. The two main environmental criticisms are one related with feed waste accumulating in the bottom of the oceans and the other related with biosecurity. Aqua feeds are definitely the solution for the first and a major supporting pillar for the second.

Sometimes the industry still falls on the trap of defending its sustainability by engaging in the argument “what we’re doing is the best alternative available so…?”  . Actually, the world does not want to hear that, we are expected to give not the best available but the sustainable one. And if none of what we are using is the sustainable strategy, then we must recognise that somewhere in the world there will be growing voices of dissatisfaction. 

What role does Novus intend to play in the aquaculture strategy horizon 2050?
Our goal is to be the referential provider of health and nutrition technologies in the industry. Size, revenue and profit all matter of course and we do have ambitious goals well before 2050. But I believe our legacy will be complete if in 2050, we could be recognized as one of the silent partners of a truly sustainable industry that in the space of a century went from virtually nothing, to the largest provider of animal protein in the world.

Can you elaborate on the role of Novus in aquaculture as a water platform?
Aquaculture is the water platform. One of the functions of that platform is the production of animal protein. For that production to be efficient animals need health and nutrition. Not only in their feeds but also in their production systems directly. Novus provides the functionality of health and nutrition strategies used throughout the value chain. 

In summary, our role covers the entire value chain of aquaculture production from raw materials to harvest. We do not provide processing plant related technologies. And within that value chain, we focus on five key platforms: Feed Cost Reduction, Functional Feeds, Health through Nutrition, Optimised Raw Materials and Sustainable Practices. We do not provide the feed, the same way we do not provide raw materials or the culture systems. What we do is to optimise such raw materials or processes. 

This role allows us to be at the cornerstone of the development of the industry. Our technologies are hinging points from which the industry can support itself and adapt in one or the other direction. The five key areas we focus on are basically essential for the development of a sustainable industry.

Is this water platform an international strategy for the development of a sustainable aquaculture?

I surely would like to see it that way. Most of the human nutrition in the world is originated from plant and animal species domesticated 10,000 years ago. Very few species were actually added on to our “portfolio” after the agricultural revolution. Aqua is the big exception. 

But it is an exception occurring at a time where our technology and our knowledge of the processes allow us to develop it in a completely different way. Bottom line our technology gives us choices. We can in fact steer aquaculture the best way possible. But for that we need innovation, research and development. And for that we need resources: human, capital, organisational, managerial, social, environmental and many others. 

We do not know what Aqua 2050 will be but we have a pretty good idea that if it will be a sustainable one, it will come by knowledge creation and knowledge sharing.  So my question is what best way to capture resources, organise them and manage them for results, that to recognise a single, diversified yet coherent platform for human development. 

You see, most of our growth is still yet to come. And in order to tap on that richness, we need to have more ambitious innovation. Science requires repetition, but are we not repeating enough already. Could we not have higher compartmentalisation of R&D in aquaculture and have better and more defined strategies and policies of research in aquaculture. I keep getting surprised by how much overlap there is in R&D plans across the world. Not only amongst private companies but also amongst public institutions. I think the development of the Water Platform would allow us – all the members of the industry to organise ourselves better and to better leverage all of our resources better, and fundamentally to progress faster and more sustainably.

This year Novus is actively participating to the 2012 BioMarine summit in London. What are your expectations?

Simply put to learn about companies, technologies, executives priorities and concerns.

What do you expect or what do you see as a practical outcome for your aquaculture Think-tank?

I would like us to come out of that session with a structured document. One that could be published as a three to five year road map and could be considered as an agenda for a more in depth debate and discussion on how to drive marine Aquaculture towards sustainability.

What do you want to say to our BioMarine community and to the attendees of the October summit in London?

First of all, please come by our think tank. Aquaculture is an integrator and we surely benefit from everybody’s contribution, especially if outside the industry. Other than that, I’m really more interested in listening to what the attendees have to say themselves. One of the things I enjoyed about last year’s event was the opportunity to keep a tab on the latest technological and business developments. There is lots and lots of information available to us every day. The problem is not access to information but rather filtering, contextualising it and relating it to your needs. BioMarine is a very good tool for that.

Novus, USA is supporting the up-coming BioMarine Business Convention 2012 in London, UK, form October 24-25, 2012.

Read an extended version of this interview here 

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Friday, 8 June 2012

Monaco punches above its weight in ocean management

It may be the second smallest country in the world but Monaco takes its marine responsibilities very seriously.  Lead by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, the country dedicated to marine sustainability both on a national and international level.

One such project is the Monaco Blue Initiative (MBI), a think tank that brings together different agents (scientific, economic, political and associative) that share a common commitment to the sustainable management and the preservation of the oceans.

Created under the aegis of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, the MBI is co-organised by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and the Oceanographic Institute, Foundation Albert Ist, Prince of Monaco.  

Albert II, Prince of Monaco
Albert II, Prince of Monaco (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
“I decided to set up a Foundation whose purpose is to protect the environment and to encourage sustainable development (...). By definition, this is a common global challenge that requires urgent and concrete action in response to three major environmental issues: climate change, biodiversity and water,” says, H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco.

Since the first initiative in 2010, the MBI has sought to develop and encourages a new vision for the spatial management of human activities at sea in relation to marine biodiversity. It places an emphasis on the potential synergies between a healthy environment and economic as well as social development around marine protected areas.

The third edition of the MBI was held on June 4, 2012 within the International Expo of Yeosu in South Korea. The theme, ‘The Living Ocean and Coast’, focused on the integrated management of marine areas. This event enabled participants to pool together good practices in this field and share new perspectives of international cooperation for the sustainable management of the oceans.

This edition in Yeosu also highlighted innovative initiatives from the Asia-Pacific zone, with a particular emphasis on the potential and role of marine protected areas for socio-economic development, aimed at political and economic decision-makers.
Monaco (Photo credit: Pir)

The event included presentations by more than 20 speakers including Sebastien Troeng, Patricio Bernal and Roy Palmer.  The MBI even made headlines in the South Korean national press, which  can only been seen as a positive sign of things to come. 

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